Business Today

Smarter Than You Think

With the right apps, you can turn your smartphone camera into a utility machine.
By Nidhi Singal        Print Edition: August 13, 2017
Smarter Than You Think

At the rear of your smartphone is a tool that can do much more than click scenic landscapes and beautiful portraits. Be it refurbishing old documents into sharp PDFs, swiftly saving business cards into the phone's contact list or being a personal translator on your travels abroad - the enhanced camera optics on the smartphone can do these and more, when bundled with easily available apps.

To save yourself considerable time and effort, download the apps below and use the camera's prowess to digitise your world.

Scan with OCR: While it is easy to click a picture of a document and send it on mail or save it on the cloud, it's not the most professional way. You don't have to have a scanning device either. Scanning apps such as iScanner by BP Mobile instantly turns your smartphone camera into a mobile scanner. The app detects the borders of the document, snaps a picture and saves it in PDF or JPG format. You can save the document in grayscale, black and white or colour formats; and can remove noise as well. The scanned document is sure to look like a professionally scanned version, and is ready to be shared, emailed or printed in one tap. While the basic version of the app is free, the higher version - priced at Rs400 for iOS and Rs 320 for Android - includes a built-in document editor that allows you to e-sign the document, offers password protection of the scans and also recognises text with optical character recognition (OCR). It also offers unlimited document scanning, cloud back-up, and file manager services. Abobe Scan is yet another app that has a built-in OCR feature allowing you to reuse scanned content by creating high-quality PDFs to work on in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Business card reader: With visiting cards still in vogue, saving them as contacts on your phone manually can be cumbersome. You can make use of apps such as CamCard that scan a business card and store details in your phonebook using your phone camera. It can do so with great accuracy - it reads details and suggests you to cross-check them before saving. A digital copy of the card is also saved within the app for future reference. While setting up this app, you have the option to scan your own business card and add a photo to it. The next time you run out of physical cards, digital business cards can be exchanged using the Card Radar feature with another CamCard user. This app is available for both iOS and Android users.

Digital memories: We all have photos of our childhood and the good old days that we so desperately wish stayed blemish-free. Making a digital copy is the best solution. You can do it using the free PhotoScan app by Google which converts physical copies into digital ones in a few seconds. This app detects the edges, straightens the image, rotates it to the correct orientation, and also removes glare. High-quality scanned photos are then saved to Google Photos and from there can be shared and securely backed up.

Translator in your pocket: When travelling abroad, your smartphone camera can help you overcome language barriers. Apps such as Google Translate can translate signboards, menu cards or any written text into your preferred language in real time. All you need to do is download the Translate app, select the language you are translating and the language you want to read the text in; point your camera at the text you want to translate and voila!

QR code scanners: QR code scanners may not be in frequent use, but do come in handy. These machine-readable codes made of black and white squares are often seen at tourist destinations, on business cards, on advertisements, events, etc. By scanning the code one is redirected to a URL for more information. It is also used as a destination for e-tickets and coupons, or to give details such as price and reviews about a product in stores. Although Android's Play Store has several apps, QR Code Reader and Scanner by Kaspersky Lab are the best ones. iOS users can opt for the Free QR Code Reader by MixerBox Inc.

@nidhisingal

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